Republic of Artsakh
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Artsakh, officially the Republic of Artsakh () or the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (),, is a breakaway state in the
South Caucasus The South Caucasus, also known as Transcaucasia or the Transcaucasus, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, straddling the southern Caucasus Mountains. The South Caucasus roughly corresponds to modern ...
whose territory is internationally recognised as part of
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
. Artsakh controls a part of the former
Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), DQMV, hy, Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի Ինքնավար Մարզ, ԼՂԻՄ was an Autonomous oblasts of the Soviet Union, autonomous oblast within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic th ...
, including the capital of
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
. It is an
enclave An enclave is a territory (or a small territory apart of a larger one) that is entirely surrounded by the territory of one other state or entity. Enclaves may also exist within territorial waters. ''Enclave'' is sometimes used improperly to deno ...
within Azerbaijan. Its only overland access route to
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
is via the wide
Lachin corridor The Lachin corridor ( hy, Լաչինի միջանցք, Lachini mijantsk; az, Laçın dəhlizi or ; ) is a mountain road that links Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Ar ...
which is under the control of Russian peacekeepers. The predominantly Armenian-populated region of
Nagorno-Karabakh Nagorno-Karabakh ( ) is a landlocked country, landlocked region in the Transcaucasia, South Caucasus, within the mountainous range of Karabakh, lying between Lower Karabakh and Syunik Province, Syunik, and covering the southeastern range o ...
was claimed by both the
Azerbaijan Democratic Republic The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic), or simply as Azerbaijan in Paris Peace Conference, 1919–1920,''Bulletin d'Information de l'Azerbaidjan'', No. I, September 1, 1919, pp. 6–7''125 H.C.Debs.'', 58., February 24, 1920, p. 1467. Caucasian Az ...
and the
First Republic of Armenia The First Republic of Armenia, officially known at the time of its existence as the Republic of Armenia ( hy, Հայաստանի Հանրապետութիւն), was the first modern Armenian state since the loss of Armenian statehood in the Middl ...
when both countries became independent in 1918 after the fall of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the List of Russian monarchs, Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended th ...
, and a brief war over the region broke out in 1920. The dispute was largely shelved after the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
established control over the area, and created the
Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), DQMV, hy, Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի Ինքնավար Մարզ, ԼՂԻՄ was an Autonomous oblasts of the Soviet Union, autonomous oblast within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic th ...
(NKAO) within the
Azerbaijan SSR Azerbaijan ( az, Азәрбајҹан, Azərbaycan, italics=no), officially the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (Azerbaijan SSR; az, Азәрбајҹан Совет Сосиалист Республикасы, Azərbaycan Sovet Sosialist R ...
in 1923. In the leadup to the
fall of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskogo Soyúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. was the process of internal disintegration within the Sov ...
, the region re-emerged as a source of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 1991, a
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a Direct democracy, direct vote by the Constituency, electorate on a proposal, law, or political issue. This is in contrast to an issue being voted on by a Representative democr ...
held in the NKAO and the neighbouring Shahumyan Province resulted in a declaration of independence. Ethnic conflict led to the 1991–1994 Nagorno-Karabakh War. Conflict has sporadically broken out since then, most significantly in the
2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War was an armed conflict in 2020 that took place in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, the surrounding territories. It was a major escalation of ...
. The Republic of Artsakh is a presidential
democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
with a
unicameral Unicameralism (from ''uni''- "one" + Latin ''camera'' "chamber") is a type of legislature, which consists of one house or assembly, that legislates and votes as one. Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multic ...
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
. The country is reliant on and closely integrated with Armenia, in many ways functioning de facto as part of Armenia. The country is very mountainous, averaging
above sea level Height above mean sea level is a measure of the Vertical position, vertical distance (height, elevation or altitude) of a location in reference to a historic mean sea level taken as a vertical datum. In geodesy, it is formalized as ''orthometric h ...
. The population is 99.7% ethnic Armenian, and the primary spoken language is the
Armenian language Armenian (Classical Armenian orthography, classical: , Armenian orthography reform, reformed: , , ) is an Indo-European languages, Indo-European language and an independent branch of that family of languages. It is the official language of Armenia ...
. The population is overwhelmingly
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...
, most being affiliated with the
Armenian Apostolic Church , native_name_lang = hy , icon = Armenian Apostolic Church logo.svg , icon_width = 100px , icon_alt = , image = Էջմիածնի_Մայր_Տաճար.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , a ...
. Several historical monasteries are popular with tourists, mostly from the
Armenian diaspora The Armenian diaspora refers to the communities of Armenians outside Armenia and other locations where Armenians are considered an indigenous population. Since antiquity, Armenians have established communities in many regions throughout the world. ...
, as most travel can take place only between Armenia and Artsakh.


Etymology

According to scholars, inscriptions dating to the
Urartian Urartian or Vannic is an extinct Hurro-Urartian languages, Hurro-Urartian language which was spoken by the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Urartu (''Biaini'' or ''Biainili'' in Urartian), which was centered on the region around Lake Van and ...
period mention the region under a variety of names: "Ardakh", "Urdekhe", and "Atakhuni". In his ''
Geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia''. Combination of Greek words ‘Geo’ (The Earth) and ‘Graphien’ (to describe), literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, i ...
'', the classical historian
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. The father of Pompey was called "Pompeius Strabo". A native of Sicily so clear-sighted that he could see ...
refers to an Armenian region which he calls "Orchistene", which is believed by some to be a
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
version of the old name of Artsakh. According to another hypothesis put forth by David M. Lang, the ancient name of Artsakh possibly derives from the name of King
Artaxias I Artaxias I (from gr, Άρταξίας; in hy, Արտաշէս, translit=Artašēs) was the founder of the Artaxiad dynasty of Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armen ...
of Armenia (190–159 BC), founder of the Artaxiad Dynasty and the kingdom of
Greater Armenia Greater Armenia ( hy, Մեծ Հայք, translit=Mets Hayk) is the name given to the Armenian state that emerged on the Armenian Highlands during the reign of King Artaxias I at the turn of the 2nd century BC. The term was used to refer prin ...
.
Folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more famili ...
holds that the name is derived from "Ar" (Aran) and "tsakh" (woods, garden) (i.e., the gardens of Aran Sisakean, the first
nakharar ''Nakharar'' ( hy, wikt:նախարար#Old Armenian, նախարար ''naxarar'', from Parthian language, Parthian ''naxvadār'' "holder of the primacy""նախարար" in H. Ačaṙean (1926–35), ''Hayerēn Armatakan Baṙaran'' (Yerevan: Yereva ...
of northeastern Armenia). The name "Nagorno-Karabakh", commonly used in English, comes from the Russian name which means "Mountainous Karabakh". Karabakh is a Turkish/Persian word thought to mean "black garden". The Azerbaijani name for the area, "Dağlıq Qarabağ", has the same meaning as the Russian name. The term "Artsakh" lacks the non-Armenian influences present in "Nagorno-Karabakh". It was revived for use in the 19th century, and is the preferred term used by the locals, in English and Russian as well as Armenian. "Mountainous Karabakh" was sometimes employed directly as part of the official English name, "Republic of Mountainous Karabakh". This reflected an attempt to shift away from the negative associations thought linked with "Nagorno-Karabakh" due to the war.


History

The earliest record of the region covered by modern-day Artsakh is from
Urartian Urartian or Vannic is an extinct Hurro-Urartian languages, Hurro-Urartian language which was spoken by the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Urartu (''Biaini'' or ''Biainili'' in Urartian), which was centered on the region around Lake Van and ...
inscriptions referring to the region as ''Urtekhini''. It is unclear if the region was ever ruled by Urartu, but it was in close proximity to other Urartian domains. It may have been inhabited by Caspian tribes and/or by
Scythians The Scythians or Scyths, and sometimes also referred to as the Classical Scythians and the Pontic Scythians, were an ancient Eastern * : "In modern scholarship the name 'Sakas' is reserved for the ancient tribes of northern and eastern Cent ...
. After decades of raids by the
Cimmerians The Cimmerians (Akkadian language, Akkadian: , romanized: ; Hebrew language, Hebrew: , Romanization of Hebrew, romanized: ; Ancient Greek: , Romanization of Greek, romanized: ; Latin: ) were an Ancient Iranian peoples, ancient Eastern Iranian la ...
,
Scythians The Scythians or Scyths, and sometimes also referred to as the Classical Scythians and the Pontic Scythians, were an ancient Eastern * : "In modern scholarship the name 'Sakas' is reserved for the ancient tribes of northern and eastern Cent ...
, and the
Medes The Medes (Old Persian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: , ; Ancient Greek: ; Latin: ) were an Iranian peoples, ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media (region), Media between western ...
, Urartu finally collapsed with the rise of the
Median Empire The Medes (Old Persian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: , ; Ancient Greek: ; Latin: ) were an Iranian peoples, ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media (region), Media between western ...
, and shortly after, the geopolitical region previously ruled as Urartu re-emerged as
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
. By the fifth century BC, Artsakh was part of Armenia under the
Orontid Dynasty The Orontid dynasty, also known as the Eruandids or Eruandunis, ruled the Satrapy of Armenia until 330 BC and the Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity), Kingdom of Armenia from 321 BC to 200 BC. The Orontids ruled first as client kings or satraps of the ...
. It continued to be part of the Kingdom of Armenia under the Artaxiad Dynasty, under which Armenia became one of the largest realms in
Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anat ...
. At its greatest extent, the
Great King Great king, and the equivalent in many languages, refers to historical titles of certain monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until a ...
of Armenia,
Tigranes II Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great ( hy, Տիգրան Մեծ, ''Tigran Mets''; grc, Τιγράνης ὁ Μέγας ''Tigránes ho Mégas''; la, Tigranes Magnus) (140 – 55 BC) was King of Kingdom of Armenia (ant ...
, built several cities named after himself in regions he considered particularly important, one of which was the
city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be def ...
he built in Artsakh. Following wars with the Romans and
Persians The Persians are an Iranian peoples, Iranian ethnic group who comprise over half of the population of Iran. They share a Culture of Iran, common cultural system and are native speakers of the Persian language as well as of Iranian languages, t ...
, Armenia was partitioned between the two empires. Artsakh was removed from
Persian Armenia Sasanian Armenia, also known as Persian Armenia and Persarmenia ( hy, Պարսկահայաստան – ''Parskahayastan''), may either refer to the periods in which Armenia ( pal, 𐭠𐭫𐭬𐭭𐭩 – ''Armin'') was under the suzerainty of ...
and included into the neighbouring
satrap A satrap () was a governor of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to t ...
y of Arran (also known as Caucasian Albania). At this time, the population of Artsakh consisted of
Armenians Armenians ( hy, հայեր, ''Romanization of Armenian, hayer'' ) are an ethnic group native to the Armenian highlands of Western Asia. Armenians constitute the main population of Armenia and the ''de facto'' independent Republic of Artsakh ...
and ''Armenicized'' aborigines, though many of the latter were still cited as distinct ethnic entities. The dialect of Armenian spoken in Artsakh was among the earliest ever recorded dialects of Armenian, which was described around this time in the seventh century AD by a contemporary named Stephanos Siunetzi. Artsakh remained part of Arran throughout Persian rule, during the fall of Iran to the Muslims, and following the Muslim conquest of Armenia. Under the Arabs, most of the
South Caucasus The South Caucasus, also known as Transcaucasia or the Transcaucasus, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, straddling the southern Caucasus Mountains. The South Caucasus roughly corresponds to modern ...
and the Armenian Highlands, including
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
and Arran, were unified into an
emirate An emirate is a territory ruled by an emir, a title used by monarchs or high officeholders in the Muslim world. From a historical point of view, an emirate is a political-religious unit smaller than a caliphate. It can be considered equivalen ...
called ''
Arminiya Arminiya, also known as the Ostikanate of Arminiya ( hy, Արմինիա ոստիկանություն, ''Arminia vostikanut'yun'') or the Emirate of Armenia ( ar, إمارة أرمينيا, ''imārat Arminiya''), was a political and geographic de ...
'', under which Artsakh continued to remain as part of Arran. Despite being under Persian and Arab rule, many of the Armenian territories, including Artsakh, were governed by Armenian nobility. Arran gradually disappeared as a geopolitical entity, while its population was assimilated by neighbouring ethnic groups with whom they shared a common culture and religion. Many Christians from Arran would form part of the ethnic composition of the Armenians living in modern-day Artsakh. Fragmentation of Arab authority provided the opportunity for the resurgence of an Armenian state in the Armenian Highlands. One particular noble dynasty, the Bagratids, began annexing territories from other Armenian nobles, which, in the latter half of the ninth century gave rise to a new
Armenian kingdom The Kingdom of Armenia, also the Kingdom of Greater Armenia, or simply Greater Armenia ( hy, Մեծ Հայք '; la, Armenia Maior), sometimes referred to as the Armenian Empire, was a monarchy in the Ancient Near East which existed from 331 BC ...
which included Artsakh. The new Kingdom didn't stay united for long, however, due to internal conflicts, civil wars, and external pressures, Armenia often found itself fragmented between other noble Armenian houses, most notably the
Mamikonian Mamikonian or Mamikonean (Classical Armenian, Classical hy, Մամիկոնեան; Armenian orthography reform, reformed orthography: Մամիկոնյան; Western Armenian pronunciation: ''Mamigonian'') was an aristocratic dynasty which domina ...
and Siunia families, the latter of which would produce a
cadet branch In history and cadency, heraldry, a cadet branch consists of the patrilineality, male-line descendants of a monarch's or patriarch's younger sons (cadet (genealogy), cadets). In the ruling dynasty, dynasties and nobility, noble families of much o ...
known as the House of Khachen, named after their stronghold in Artsakh. The House of Khachen ruled the
Kingdom of Artsakh The Kingdom of Artsakh ( hy, Արցախի թագավորություն) was a medieval dependent Armenian kingdom on the territory of Syunik and Artsakh provinces, Gardman canton of Utik Utik ( hy, Ուտիք, also known as Uti, Utiq, o ...
in the 11th century as an independent kingdom under the protectorate of the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia. Under the House of Khachen, the region historically called Artsakh became synonymous with the name "Khachen". Following wars with the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
, and with the arrival of
Seljuk Turks The Seljuk dynasty, or Seljukids ( ; fa, سلجوقیان ''Saljuqian'', alternatively spelled as Seljuqs or Saljuqs), also known as Seljuk Turks, Seljuk Turkomans "The defeat in August 1071 of the Byzantine emperor Romanos Diogenes by the Turk ...
in the latter half of the 11th century, the Kingdom of Armenia collapsed, and Artsakh became the autonomous
Principality of Khachen The Principality of Khachen ( hy, Խաչենի իշխանություն, Khacheni ishkhanutyun) was a medieval Armenians, Armenian principality on the territory of historical Artsakh (historic province), Artsakh (present-day Nagorno-Karabakh). ...
, ruled by the
House of Hasan-Jalalyan The House of Hasan-Jalalyan ( hy, Հասան-Ջալալյաններ) was an Armenian people, Armenian dynasty that ruled the region of Khachen (Greater Artsakh (historic province), Artsakh) from 1214 onwards in what are now the regions of lower ...
, within the
Kingdom of Georgia The Kingdom of Georgia ( ka, საქართველოს სამეფო, tr), also known as the Georgian Empire, was a medieval Eurasian monarchy that was founded in circa 1008 Anno Domini, AD. It reached Georgian Golden Age, its Golde ...
for a short time until the
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , , ; ; russian: Монголы) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to Mongolia, Inner Mongolia in China and the Buryatia, Buryatia Republic of the Russia, Russ ...
acquired the region. Although the Armenians of Artsakh did not rule the lands as fully sovereign entities, the mountainous geography of the location allowed them to maintain a semi-independent or autonomous status within other realms, such as the Timurid,
Kara Koyunlu The Qara Qoyunlu or Kara Koyunlu ( az, Qaraqoyunlular , fa, قره قویونلو), also known as the Black Sheep Turkomans, were a culturally Persianate society, Persianate, Muslims, Muslim Turkoman (ethnonym), Turkoman "Kara Koyunlu, also ...
, and Ak Koyunlu realms. During this time, the lands to the west of the Kura River up to the eastern slopes of the Zangezur mountain range became known as ''
Karabakh Karabakh ( az, Qarabağ ; hy, Ղարաբաղ, Ġarabaġ ) is a geographic region in present-day southwestern Azerbaijan and eastern Armenia, extending from the highlands of the Lesser Caucasus down to the lowlands between the rivers Kura (Caspia ...
'', with the lands of the Principality of Khachen corresponding to the highlands. During the period of Mongol domination, a great number of Armenians left the lowlands of Karabakh and sought refuge in the mountainous heights of the region. The Principality of Khachen was eventually divided amongst five Armenian princes, known as
melik Мelik (also transliterated as ''Meliq'') ( ''melikʿ''; from ar, ملك ''malik'' (king)) was a hereditary Armenian nobility, Armenian noble title, in various Eastern Armenian principalities known as ''melikdom''s encompassing modern Yerevan ...
s, who collectively became known as the Five Melikdoms of Karabakh (also referred to as ''Khamsa'', meaning "five" in Arabic). In the 16th century, Karabakh came under Iranian rule for the first time in almost a millennium with the rise of the
Safavid Empire Safavid Iran or Safavid Persia (), also referred to as the Safavid Empire, '. was one of the greatest Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bord ...
, within which the territory of modern-day Artsakh became part of the Province of Karabakh. The Armenian princes continued to rule autonomously over the highlands of Karabakh during this time. In the mid-18th century, the whole of Karabakh became a semi-independent
khanate A khaganate or khanate was a polity ruled by a Khan (title), khan, khagan, khatun, or khanum. That political territory was typically found on the Eurasian Steppe and could be equivalent in status to tribe, tribal chiefdom, principality, monarch ...
called the
Karabakh Khanate The Karabakh Khanate was a semi-independent Turkic peoples, Turkic Khanates of the Caucasus, Caucasian khanate on the territories of modern-day Armenia and Azerbaijan established in about 1748 under Safavid dynasty, Iranian suzerainty in Karaba ...
which lasted for about 75 years. The
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the List of Russian monarchs, Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended th ...
advanced into the region in 1805, declared Artsakh a Russian protectorate and formally annexed it from
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
in 1813 according to the
Treaty of Gulistan The Treaty of Gulistan (russian: Гюлистанский договор; fa, عهدنامه گلستان) was a peace treaty A peace treaty is an treaty, agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, which ...
. The Armenian princes lost their status as princes (''meliks'') in 1822.


Dissolution of the Russian Empire

Following the breakup of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the List of Russian monarchs, Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended th ...
, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh formed an unrecognised polity known as the Karabakh Council in 1918. Due to Azerbaijani–British pressure, the Karabakh Council in August 1919 was forced to provisionally recognise the authority of
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
pending the Paris Peace Conference's decision on the
South Caucasus The South Caucasus, also known as Transcaucasia or the Transcaucasus, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, straddling the southern Caucasus Mountains. The South Caucasus roughly corresponds to modern ...
republics' international borders. As the peace conference was inconclusive regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani governor-general of Karabakh, Khosrov bey Sultanov, issued an ultimatum to the Armenians of Karabakh in early 1920, stipulating their acceptance of permanent inclusion into Azerbaijan.
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
responded by dispatching its agents to organize a rebellion in Nagorno-Karabakh against Azerbaijani rule—the subversive prepations culminated in an abortive uprising that led to the massacre and displacement of
Shusha Shusha ( az, Şuşa, ) or Shushi ( hy, Շուշի) is a city in Azerbaijan, in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Situated at an altitude of 1,400–1,800 metres (4,600–5,900 ft) in the Karabakh mountains, the city was a mountain reso ...
's Armenian population By 1921, Nagorno-Karabakh was in the control of Soviet authorities, who decided on the formation of the
Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), DQMV, hy, Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի Ինքնավար Մարզ, ԼՂԻՄ was an Autonomous oblasts of the Soviet Union, autonomous oblast within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic th ...
(NKAO) within
Soviet Azerbaijan Azerbaijan ( az, Азәрбајҹан, Azərbaycan, italics=no), officially the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (Azerbaijan SSR; az, Азәрбајҹан Совет Сосиалист Республикасы, Azərbaycan Sovet Sosialist R ...
. During the
fall of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskogo Soyúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. was the process of internal disintegration within the Sov ...
, the region re-emerged as a source of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 1991, a
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a Direct democracy, direct vote by the Constituency, electorate on a proposal, law, or political issue. This is in contrast to an issue being voted on by a Representative democr ...
held in the NKAO and the neighbouring Shahumian region resulted in a declaration of independence. The ethnic conflict led to the 1991–1994 Nagorno-Karabakh War, which ended with a ceasefire along roughly the current borders. According to
UNHCR The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a United Nations agency mandated to aid and protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people, and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integra ...
, the conflict resulted in over 600,000 internally displaced people within
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
established itself in Azerbaijan, and advocated that all of Karabakh (including Zangezur and Artsakh) should be part of Azerbaijan until the boundaries can be decided upon peacefully at the upcoming Paris Peace Conference of 1919, but the battles did not cease until the
Red Army The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army (Russian language, Russian: Рабо́че-крестья́нская Кра́сная армия),) often shortened to the Red Army, was the army and air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist R ...
from
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and North Asia, Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the ...
began reclaiming the former territories of the Russian Empire and created
Soviet Azerbaijan Azerbaijan ( az, Азәрбајҹан, Azərbaycan, italics=no), officially the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (Azerbaijan SSR; az, Азәрбајҹан Совет Сосиалист Республикасы, Azərbaycan Sovet Sosialist R ...
out of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1920. The Armenians of Zangezur and Artsakh had consistently maintained control of the region and intended to unite with Armenia during the entirety of the two years of chaos, with Azerbaijan only temporarily occupying parts of the regions at certain times. The fall of Azerbaijan gave Armenia the opportunity to properly unite with the Armenian irregulars in Zangezur and Artsakh, but they were taken by the Red Army on 26 May 1920. The rest of Armenia fell to the Red Army shortly after. The
Bolsheviks The Bolsheviks (russian: Большевики́, from большинство́ ''bol'shinstvó'', 'majority'),; derived from ''bol'shinstvó'' (большинство́), "majority", literally meaning "one of the majority". also known in English ...
tried to end the centuries-long rivalry between Russia and Turkey, and in 1921,
Joseph Stalin Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili; – 5 March 1953) was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former ...
formally transferred the Armenian-populated highlands of Karabakh to
Soviet Azerbaijan Azerbaijan ( az, Азәрбајҹан, Azərbaycan, italics=no), officially the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (Azerbaijan SSR; az, Азәрбајҹан Совет Сосиалист Республикасы, Azərbaycan Sovet Sosialist R ...
to try to placate Turkey, though the majority of Zangezur remained within
Soviet Armenia The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic,; russian: Армянская Советская Социалистическая Республика, translit=Armyanskaya Sovetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika) also commonly referred to as Soviet A ...
. In December 1920 under Soviet pressure central authorities issued a statement that Karabakh, Zangezur and Nakhjivan were all transferred to Armenian control. Stalin (then commissar for nationalities) made the decision public on 2 December, but the Azerbaijani leader Narimanov later denied the transfer. Under these circumstances, the Soviet Socialist Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, entering as the Transcaucasian SSR, were admitted to the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
on 30 December 1922. The inclusion of Artsakh within Soviet Azerbaijan caused an uproar amongst Armenians, which led to the creation of the
Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), DQMV, hy, Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի Ինքնավար Մարզ, ԼՂԻՄ was an Autonomous oblasts of the Soviet Union, autonomous oblast within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic th ...
(NKAO) within Soviet Azerbaijan on 7 July 1923 (implemented in November 1924).


Post-Soviet era

In the lead-up to the
dissolution of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskogo Soyúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. was the process of internal disintegration within the Sov ...
, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was revitalised. In 198788, a mass movement started in Nagorno-Karabakh and Soviet Armenia calling on the Soviet authorities to transfer the region to Armenia. Starting with the pogrom against Armenians in the Azerbaijani town of
Sumgait Sumgait (; az, Sumqayıt, ) is a city in Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental countr ...
in February 1988, the conflict became increasingly violent, and attempts by Moscow to resolve the dispute failed. In summer 1988, the legislatures of Soviet Armenia and the NKAO passed resolutions declaring the unification of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, which were rejected by Azerbaijani and central Soviet authorities. In December 1991, the Armenians of
Nagorno-Karabakh Nagorno-Karabakh ( ) is a landlocked country, landlocked region in the Transcaucasia, South Caucasus, within the mountainous range of Karabakh, lying between Lower Karabakh and Syunik Province, Syunik, and covering the southeastern range o ...
declared their independence as the ''Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh'' with the intention of reunifying with newly independent
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
. The declaration was rejected by newly independent
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
, leading to the outbreak of full-scale war with Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh on one side and Azerbaijan on the other. The
First Nagorno-Karabakh War The First Nagorno-Karabakh War, referred to in Armenia as the Artsakh Liberation War ( hy, Արցախյան ազատամարտ, Artsakhyan azatamart) was an ethnic and territorial conflict that took place from February 1988 to May 1994, in ...
ended with a ceasefire in May 1994, with Armenian forces controlling practically the entire territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast as well as most of seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan. The Republic of Artsakh became a de facto independent country, though closely integrated with Armenia, while its territory remained internationally recognised as part of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Intermittent fighting over the region continued after the 1994 ceasefire without significant territorial changes, while long-standing international mediation attempts to create a peace process were initiated by the
OSCE Minsk Group The OSCE Minsk Group was created in 1992 by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), now Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world' ...
in 1994. From late September 2020 until November, significant fighting resumed and Azerbaijan recaptured territories, primarily in the southern part of the region, as well as the strategic town of
Shushi / hy, Շուշի , settlement_type = City A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Sc ...
. A ceasefire agreement signed on 10 November 2020 between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia declared an end to the renewed fighting, and established that Armenia would withdraw from remaining occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh over the next month. The agreement includes provisions for a Russian peacekeeping force to deploy to the region, with Russian President Vladimir Putin stating that the ceasefire agreement would "create the conditions for a long-term settlement".


Government and politics

Artsakh is a presidential
democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
(in the middle of transforming from a semi-presidential one, after the 2017 referendum). The
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
's post was abolished and
executive power The Executive, also referred as the Executive branch or Executive power, is the term commonly used to describe that part of government which enforces the law, and has overall responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. In poli ...
now resides with the
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese ful ...
who is both the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "
he head of state He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun), an English pronoun * He (kana), the romanization of the Japanese kana へ * He (letter) He is the fifth Letter (alphabet), letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician alphabet, Phoenic ...
being an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international p ...
and
head of government The head of government is the highest or the second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presid ...
. The president is directly elected for a maximum of two-consecutive five-year terms. The current President is
Arayik Harutyunyan Arayik Vladimiri Harutyunyan ( hy, Արայիկ Վլադիմիրի Հարությունյան; born 14 December 1973) is an Armenian politician who has been serving as the President of Artsakh since 2020. He was formerly the 1st State Minister of ...
who was sworn in on 21 May 2020. The
National Assembly In politics, a national assembly is either a unicameral legislature, the lower house of a bicameral legislature, or both houses of a bicameral legislature together. In the English language it generally means "an assembly composed of the repre ...
is a unicameral legislature. It has 33 members who are elected for 5-year terms. Elections take place within a
multi-party system In political science, a multi-party system is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coal ...
; in 2009, the American NGO
Freedom House Freedom House is a non-profit, majority U.S. government funded organization in Washington, D.C., that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, Freedom (political), political freedom, and human rights. Freedom House was founded in October 19 ...
ranked the Republic of Artsakh above the republics of
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
and
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
with respect to
civil and political rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' political freedom, freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's entitlement to participate in the civil and ...
. Five parties have members in the parliament: the
Free Motherland Free Motherland ( hy, «Ազատ Հայրենիք» կուսակցություն, ''Azat Hayrenik kusaktsutyun'') abbreviated as ԱՀԿ or AHK is a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compet ...
party has 15 members, ARF has 8 members, Democratic Party of Artsakh has 7 members, Movement 88 has 2 members and the National Revival party has one member. A number of non-partisan candidates have also taken part in the
elections An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative ...
, with some success; in 2015, two of the 33 members to the National Assembly took their seats without running under the banner of any of the established political parties in the republic. Elections in Artsakh are not recognised by international bodies such as the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
and the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation An organization or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), see spelling differences), is an legal entity, entity—such as ...
, as well as numerous individual countries, who called them a source of increased tensions. Artsakh is heavily dependent on Armenia, and in many ways ''de facto'' functions and is administered as part of Armenia. However, Armenia is hesitant to officially recognise Artsakh.


Constitution

The founding documents of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic were the ''Proclamation of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic'' and the ''Declaration of State Independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic''. For a long time no constitution was created, with the republic instead declaring Armenian law applied on its territory through a 1992 law. Even when new laws were passed, they were often copies of equivalent Armenian laws. On 3 November 2006, the then-president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arkadi Ghukasyan, signed a decree to hold a referendum on a draft Nagorno-Karabakh constitution. It was held on 10 December of the same year and according to official preliminary results, with a turnout of 87.2%, as many as 98.6 per cent of voters approved the constitution. The first article of the document described the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, alternatively called the Republic of Artsakh, as "a sovereign, democratic state based on social justice and the rule of law." More than 100 non-governmental international observers and journalists who monitored the poll evaluated it positively, stating that it was held to a high international standard. However, the vote was criticised harshly by inter-governmental organisations such as the European Union,
OSCE The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest regional security-oriented intergovernmental organization Globalization is social change associated with increased connectivity among societies and their ...
and
GUAM Guam (; ch, Guåhan ) is an Unincorporated territories of the United States, organized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the Micronesia subregion of the western Pacific Ocean. It is the List of extreme points of the United Stat ...
, which rejected the referendum, deeming it illegitimate. The EU announced it was "aware that a 'constitutional referendum' has taken place," but emphasised its stance that only a negotiated settlement between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians could bring a lasting solution. Secretary General of the Council of Europe Terry Davis asserted that the poll "will not be recognized... and is therefore of no consequence". In a statement, the OSCE chairman in office Karel De Gucht voiced his concern that the vote would prove harmful to the ongoing conflict settlement process, which, he said, had shown "visible progress" and was at a "promising juncture". The holding of the referendum was also criticised by Turkey, which traditionally supports Azerbaijan because of common ethnic Turkic roots, and has historically had severe tensions with Armenia. Another referendum was held on 20 February 2017, with an 87.6% vote in favour on a 76% turnout for instituting a new constitution. This constitution among other changes turned the government from a semi-presidential to a fully presidential model. Its name was changed from "Constitution of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic" to "Constitution of the Republic of Artsakh", though both remained official names of the country. The referendum is seen as a response to the
2016 Nagorno-Karabakh clashes The 2016 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, also known as the Four-Day War,, International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA: ʰɑroɾjɑ pɑtɛɾɑzm az, Dördgünlük müharibə April War,; or April clashes, began along the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contac ...
.


Foreign relations

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is based in
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
. Since no UN member or observer currently recognises Artsakh, none of its foreign relations are of an official diplomatic nature. However, the Republic of Artsakh operates five permanent Missions and one Bureau of Social-Politic Information in France. Artsakh's Permanent Missions exist in
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
, Australia, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, and one for Middle East countries based in
Beirut Beirut, french: Beyrouth is the capital and largest city of Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located b ...
. The goals of the offices are to present the Republic's positions on various issues, to provide information and to facilitate the peace process. In his 2015 speech, the President of Armenia
Serzh Sargsyan Serzh Azati Sargsyan ( hy, Սերժ Ազատի Սարգսյան, ; born 30 June 1954)Of ...
stated that he considered Nagorno-Karabakh "an inseparable part of Armenia". The Republic of Artsakh is neither a member nor observer of the UN or any of its specialised agencies. However, it is a member of the
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations The Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations (russian: Сообщество за демократию и права народов), also commonly and colloquially known as the Commonwealth of Unrecognized States, rarely as CIS-2 (), is a ...
, commonly known as the "Commonwealth of Unrecognized States", and is recognised by
Transnistria Transnistria, officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), is an List of states with limited recognition, unrecognised breakaway state that is internationally recognised as a part of Moldova. Transnistria controls most of the narro ...
,
Abkhazia Abkhazia, ka, აფხაზეთი, tr, , xmf, აბჟუა, abzhua, or ( or ), officially the Republic of Abkhazia, is a partially recognised State (polity), state in the South Caucasus, International recognition of Abkhazia and ...
and
South Ossetia South Ossetia, ka, სამხრეთი ოსეთი, ( , ), officially the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania, is a international recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, partially recognised Landlocked country, ...
.


Military

According to the Constitution of Artsakh, the army is under the civilian command of the government. The
Artsakh Defense Army The Artsakh Defence Army ( hy, Արցախի Հանրապետության պաշտպանության բանակ, Artsakhi Hanrapetut’yan pashtpanut’yan banak) is the defence force of the breakaway Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Est ...
was officially established on 9 May 1992 as a defence against Azerbaijan. It fought the Azerbaijani army to a ceasefire on 12 May 1994. Currently the Artsakh Defense Army consists of around 18,000–20,000 officers and soldiers. However, only 8,500 citizens from Artsakh serve in the Artsakh army; some 10,000 come from Armenia. There are also 177–316
tank A tank is an armoured fighting vehicle intended as a primary offensive weapon in front-line ground combat. Tank designs are a balance of heavy firepower, strong vehicle armour, armour, and good battlefield mobility (military), mobility prov ...
s, 256–324 additional fighting vehicles, and 291–322 guns and
mortars Mortar may refer to: * Mortar (weapon) A mortar is usually a simple, lightweight, man-portable, Muzzleloader, muzzle-loaded weapon, consisting of a Smoothbore, smooth-bore (although some models use a Rifling, rifled barrel) metal tube fixed to a ...
. Armenia supplies arms and other military necessities to Artsakh. Several battalions of Armenia's army are deployed directly in the Artsakh zone on occupied Azerbaijani territory. The Artsakh Defense Army fought in Shusha in 1992, opening the
Lachin corridor The Lachin corridor ( hy, Լաչինի միջանցք, Lachini mijantsk; az, Laçın dəhlizi or ; ) is a mountain road that links Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Ar ...
between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (1992), and staged the defence of the Martakert front from 1992 to 1994.


Current situation


Political status

Today, Artsakh is a ''de facto''
independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, area of the United States during the early 1930s * Independen ...
state, calling itself the ''Republic of Artsakh''. It has close relations with
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
and uses the same currency, the
dram Dynamic random-access memory (dynamic RAM or DRAM) is a type of random-access memory, random-access semiconductor memory that stores each bit of data in a memory cell (computing), memory cell, usually consisting of a tiny capacitor and a tr ...
. According to
Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures governments, policy makers, companies, and individual human ri ...
, "from the beginning of the Karabakh conflict, Armenia provided aid, weapons, and volunteers. Armenian involvement in Artsakh escalated after a December 1993 Azerbaijani offensive. The Republic of Armenia began sending conscripts and regular Army and Interior Ministry troops to fight in Artsakh." The politics of Armenia and the de facto Artsakh are so intertwined that
Robert Kocharyan Robert Sedraki Kocharyan ( hy, Ռոբերտ Սեդրակի Քոչարյան ; born 31 August 1954) is an Armenian politician. He served as the President of Artsakh, President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from 1994 to 1997 and Prime Minister of ...
served as the first President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, from 1994 to 1997, then as prime minister of Armenia from 1997 to 1998, and then as the second President of Armenia, from 1998 to 2008. However, Armenian governments have repeatedly resisted internal pressure to unite the two, due to ongoing negotiations under the auspices of the
OSCE Minsk Group The OSCE Minsk Group was created in 1992 by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), now Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world' ...
. In his case study of Eurasia, Dov Lynch of the Institute for Security Studies of WEU believes that "Karabakh's independence allows the new Armenian state to avoid the international stigma of aggression, despite the fact that Armenian troops fought in the war between 1991–94 and continue to man the Line of Contact between Karabakh and Azerbaijan." Lynch also cites that the "strength of the Armenian armed forces, and Armenia's strategic alliance with Russia, are seen as key shields protecting the Karabakh state by the authorities in
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
". Some sources consider Artsakh as functioning ''de facto'' as a part of Armenia. At present, the mediation process is at a standstill, with the most recent discussions in
Rambouillet Rambouillet (, , ) is a subprefecture A subprefecture is an administrative division of a country that is below prefecture or province. Albania There are twelve Counties of Albania, Albanian counties or prefectures, each of which is divided ...
, France, yielding no agreement. Azerbaijan has officially requested Armenian troops to withdraw from all disputed areas of Azerbaijan outside Nagorno-Karabakh, and that all displaced people be allowed to return to their homes before the status of Karabakh can be discussed. Armenia does not recognise Azerbaijani claims to Nagorno-Karabakh and believes the territory should have self-determination. Both the Armenian and Artsakhi governments note that the independence of Artsakh was declared around the time the Soviet Union dissolved and its members became independent. The Armenian government insists that the government of Artsakh be part of any discussions on the region's future, and rejects ceding occupied territory or allowing refugees to return before talks on the region's status. Representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, France, Russia and the United States met in Paris and in
Key West Key West ( es, Cayo Hueso) is an island in the Straits of Florida, within the U.S. state of Florida. Together with all or parts of the separate islands of Sigsbee Park, Dredgers Key, Fleming Key, Sunset Key, and the northern part of Stock Isla ...
, Florida, in early 2001. Despite rumours that the parties were close to a solution, the Azerbaijani authorities – both during
Heydar Aliyev Heydar Alirza oghlu Aliyev ( az, Һејдәр Әлирза оғлу Әлијев, italic=no, Heydər Əlirza oğlu Əliyev, ; , ; 10 May 1923 – 12 December 2003) was a Soviet and Azerbaijanis, Azerbaijani politician who served as the third pre ...
's period of office, and after the accession of his son
Ilham Aliyev Ilham Heydar oghlu Aliyev ( az, İlham Heydər oğlu Əliyev, ; born 24 December 1961) is the fourth president of Azerbaijan, serving in the post since 31 October 2003. The son and second child of the former Azerbaijani leader Heydar Aliyev, ...
in the October 2003 elections – have firmly denied that any agreement was reached in Paris or Key West. Further talks between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents,
Ilham Aliyev Ilham Heydar oghlu Aliyev ( az, İlham Heydər oğlu Əliyev, ; born 24 December 1961) is the fourth president of Azerbaijan, serving in the post since 31 October 2003. The son and second child of the former Azerbaijani leader Heydar Aliyev, ...
and
Robert Kocharyan Robert Sedraki Kocharyan ( hy, Ռոբերտ Սեդրակի Քոչարյան ; born 31 August 1954) is an Armenian politician. He served as the President of Artsakh, President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from 1994 to 1997 and Prime Minister of ...
, were held in September 2004 in Astana,
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to Kazakhstan–Russia border, the north and ...
, on the sidelines of the
Commonwealth of Independent States The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a regional intergovernmental organization in Eurasia Eurasia (, ) is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Nort ...
(CIS) summit. Reportedly, one of the suggestions put forward was the withdrawal of the occupying forces from the Azeri territories adjacent to Artsakh and then holding
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a Direct democracy, direct vote by the Constituency, electorate on a proposal, law, or political issue. This is in contrast to an issue being voted on by a Representative democr ...
s (plebiscites) in Artsakh and Azerbaijan proper regarding the future status of the region. On 10 and 11 February 2006, Kocharyan and Aliyev met in
Rambouillet Rambouillet (, , ) is a subprefecture A subprefecture is an administrative division of a country that is below prefecture or province. Albania There are twelve Counties of Albania, Albanian counties or prefectures, each of which is divided ...
, France, to discuss the fundamental principles of a settlement to the conflict. Contrary to the initial optimism, the Rambouillet talks did not produce any agreement, with key issues such as the status of Artsakh and whether Armenian troops would withdraw from Kalbajar still being contentious. Talks were held at the Polish embassy in
Bucharest Bucharest ( , ; ro, București ) is the capital and largest city of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country located at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern, and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Eu ...
in June 2006. Again, American, Russian, and French diplomats attended the talks that lasted over 40 minutes. Earlier, Armenian President Kocharyan announced that he was ready to "continue dialogue with Azerbaijan for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and with Turkey on establishing relations without any preconditions". According to Armenian foreign minister, Vardan Oskanyan, no progress was made at this latest meeting. Both presidents failed to reach a consensus on the issues from the earlier Rambouillet conference. He noted that the Kocharyan-Aliyev meeting was held in a normal atmosphere. "Nevertheless," he added, "the foreign ministers of the two countries are commissioned to continue talks over the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and try to find common points before the next meeting of the presidents." The major disagreement between both sides at the Bucharest conference was the status of Artsakh. Azerbaijan's preferred solution would be to give Artsakh the "highest status of autonomy adopted in the world". Armenia, on the other hand, endorsed a popular vote by the inhabitants of Artsakh to decide their future, a position that was also taken by the international mediators. On 27 June, the Armenian foreign minister said both parties agreed to allow the residents of Artsakh to vote regarding the future status of the region. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially refuted that statement. According to Azeri opposition leader Isa Gambar, however, Azerbaijan did indeed agree to the referendum. Still, nothing official has confirmed this yet. The ongoing "Prague Process" overseen by the OSCE Minsk Group was brought into sharp relief in the summer of 2006 with a series of rare public revelations seemingly designed to jump-start the stalled negotiations. After the release in June of a paper outlining its position, which had until then been carefully guarded, U.S. State Department official Matthew Bryza told
Radio Free Europe Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North Am ...
that the Minsk Group favoured a referendum in Karabakh that would determine its final status. The referendum, in the view of the OSCE, should take place not in Azerbaijan as a whole, but in Artsakh only. This was a blow to Azerbaijan, and despite talk that their government might eventually seek a more sympathetic forum for future negotiations, this has not yet happened. On 10 December 2007 Azerbaijan's deputy foreign minister said Azerbaijan would be prepared to conduct anti-terrorist operations in Nagorno-Karabakh against alleged bases of the
Kurdistan Workers' Party The Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK is a Kurds, Kurdish militant political organization and armed guerrilla warfare, guerrilla List of guerrilla movements, movement, which historically operated throughout Kurdistan, but is now primarily based ...
(PKK). Armenian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Vladimir Karapetian previously rejected the allegations as "fabricated" and suggested the accusations of the PKK presence were a form of provocation. In 2008, Azerbaijani president
Ilham Aliyev Ilham Heydar oghlu Aliyev ( az, İlham Heydər oğlu Əliyev, ; born 24 December 1961) is the fourth president of Azerbaijan, serving in the post since 31 October 2003. The son and second child of the former Azerbaijani leader Heydar Aliyev, ...
stated that "Nagorno-Karabakh will never be independent; the position is backed by international mediators as well; Armenia has to accept the reality" and that "in 1918,
Yerevan Yerevan ( , , hy, Երևան , sometimes spelled Erevan) is the capital and largest city of Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The ...
was granted to the
Armenians Armenians ( hy, հայեր, ''Romanization of Armenian, hayer'' ) are an ethnic group native to the Armenian highlands of Western Asia. Armenians constitute the main population of Armenia and the ''de facto'' independent Republic of Artsakh ...
. It was a great mistake. The khanate of Iravan was the
Azeri Azerbaijanis (; az, Azərbaycanlılar, ), Azeris ( az, Azərilər, ), or Azerbaijani Turks ( az, Azərbaycan Türkləri, ) are a Turkic peoples, Turkic people living mainly in Azerbaijan (Iran), northwestern Iran and the Azerbaijan, Republi ...
territory, the Armenians were guests here". On the other hand, in 2009, the president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan declared that "Artsakh will never be a part of Azerbaijan. Artsakh security should never be an article of commerce either. As to other issues, we are ready to discuss them with Azerbaijan.". In 2010 president of Republic of Armenia
Serzh Sargsyan Serzh Azati Sargsyan ( hy, Սերժ Ազատի Սարգսյան, ; born 30 June 1954)Of ...
in his speech in the Chatham House of the British Royal Institute of International Affairs declared that "Karabakh was never a part of independent Azerbaijan: it was annexed to Azerbaijan by a decision of the Soviet Union party body. The people of Karabakh never put up with this decision, and upon the first opportunity, seceded from the Soviet Union fully in line with the laws of the Soviet Union and the applicable international law". On 14 March 2008, the United Nations General Assembly passed a
non-binding resolution A non-binding resolution is a written motion In physics, motion is the phenomenon in which an object changes its Position (geometry), position with respect to time. Motion is mathematically described in terms of Displacement (geometry), displace ...
by a vote of 39 to 7, with 100 abstentions, reaffirming Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, expressing support for that country's internationally recognised borders and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all occupied territories there. The resolution was supported mainly by members of the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation An organization or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), see spelling differences), is an legal entity, entity—such as ...
(OIC) and
GUAM Guam (; ch, Guåhan ) is an Unincorporated territories of the United States, organized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the Micronesia subregion of the western Pacific Ocean. It is the List of extreme points of the United Stat ...
, Azerbaijan is a member in both groups, as well as other nations facing breakaway regions. The resolution was opposed by all three members of the
OSCE The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest regional security-oriented intergovernmental organization Globalization is social change associated with increased connectivity among societies and their ...
Minsk Group. On 20 May 2010, the
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of the Legislature, legislative bodies of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union (known as the Council and in ...
adopted a resolution "on the need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus", which states that EU must pursue a strategy to promote stability, prosperity and conflict resolution in the South Caucasus. The resolution "calls on the parties to intensify their peace talk efforts for the purpose of a settlement in the coming months, to show a more constructive attitude and to abandon preferences to perpetuate the status quo created by force and with no international legitimacy, creating in this way instability and prolonging the suffering of the war-affected populations; condemns the idea of a military solution and the heavy consequences of military force already used, and calls on both parties to avoid any further breaches of the 1994 ceasefire". The resolution also calls for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan, accompanied by the deployment of international forces to be organised with respect of the UN Charter in order to provide the necessary security guarantees in a period of transition, which will ensure the security of the population of Artsakh and allow the displaced people to return to their homes and further conflicts caused by homelessness to be prevented; and states that the EU believes that the position according to which Artsakh includes all occupied Azerbaijani lands surrounding Artsakh should rapidly be abandoned. It also notes "that an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh could offer a solution until the final status is determined and that it could create a transitional framework for peaceful coexistence and cooperation of Armenian and Azerbaijani populations in the region." On 26 June 2010, the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group's co-chair countries, France, Russia, and United States made a joint statement, reaffirming their "commitment to support the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as they finalize the Basic Principles for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict". During his August 2019 visit to Stepanakert, the
Prime Minister of Armenia The prime minister of Armenia is the head of government and most senior minister within the Armenian government, and is required by the constitution to "determine the main directions of policy of the Government, manage the activities of the Go ...
Nikol Pashinyan Nikol Vovayi Pashinyan ( hy, Նիկոլ Վովայի Փաշինյան, ; born 1 June 1975) is an Armenian politician serving as the prime minister of Armenia since 8 May 2018. A journalist by profession, Pashinyan founded his own newspaper in ...
presented the strategic development goals set for Armenia for the next three decades. He added that he made no special provision for Nagorno-Karabakh because "Artsakh is Armenia and there is no alternative". Soon afterwards, Armenia's Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan commented on Pashinyan's statement by saying he had "nothing to add" to Pashinyan's formulation of Armenia's position in the conflict.


2020 war and aftermath

On September 27, 2020, fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Artsakh, which may have claimed thousands of lives. Azerbaijan recaptured territories, primarily in the southern part of the region. A ceasefire agreement signed on 10 November 2020 between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia declared an end to the renewed fighting, and established that Armenia would withdraw from remaining occupied territories surrounding the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast over the next month, while maintaining control over the areas of the former oblast that had not been captured during the war. The deal includes provisions for a Russian peacekeeping force to deploy to the region, with Russian President Vladimir Putin stating that he intends for the current agreement to "create the conditions for a long-term settlement". No UN member states have recognised Artsakh, although some unrecognised and partially recognised states have done so. Various sub-national governments have issued calls for recognition of Artsakh by their national governments. In 2021, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia held a trilateral meeting about Artsakh. This is expected to be the first of a regular series of meetings between the three countries, per an agreement to promote economic and infrastructure development throughout the region.


Displaced people

The first Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has resulted in the displacement of 597,000 Azerbaijanis (this figure includes 230,000 children born to internally displaced people (IDPs) and 54,000 who have returned) including Artsakh, and 220,000 Azeris, 18,000 Kurds and 3,500 Russians fled from Armenia to Azerbaijan from 1988 to 1989. The Azerbaijani government has estimated that 63% of IDPs lived below the poverty line as compared to 49% of the total population. About 154,000 lived in the capital, Baku. According to the
International Organization for Migration The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a UN agency, United Nations agency that provides services and advice concerning human migration, migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and mi ...
, 40,000 IDPs lived in camps, 60,000 in dugout shelters, and 20,000 in railway cars. Forty-thousand IDPs lived in EU-funded settlements and UNHCR provided housing for another 40,000. Another 5,000 IDPs lived in abandoned or rapidly deteriorating schools. Others lived in trains, on roadsides in half-constructed buildings, or in public buildings such as tourist and health facilities. Tens of thousands lived in seven tent camps where poor water supply and sanitation caused gastrointestinal infections,
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by ''Mycobacterium tuberculosis'' (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections show no symptoms, in ...
, and
malaria Malaria is a Mosquito-borne disease, mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes Signs and symptoms, symptoms that typically include fever, fatigue (medical), tiredness, vomiting, and headaches. In se ...
. The government required IDPs to register their place of residence in an attempt to better target the limited and largely inadequate national and international assistance due to the Armenian advocated and US imposed restrictions on humanitarian aid to Azerbaijan. Many IDPs were from rural areas and found it difficult to integrate into the urban labour market. Many international humanitarian agencies reduced or ceased assistance for IDPs citing increasing oil revenues of the country. The infant mortality among displaced Azerbaijani children is 3–4 times higher than in the rest of the population. The rate of
stillbirth Stillbirth is typically defined as fetus, fetal death at or after 20 or 28 weeks of pregnancy, depending on the source. It results in a baby born without vital signs, signs of life. A stillbirth can result in the feeling of guilt (emotion), guil ...
was 88.2 per 1,000 births among the internally displaced people. The majority of the displaced have lived in difficult conditions for more than 13 years. During the 2020 war President Aliyev stated he intends for refugees to return to the area. While many former cities are currently uninhabitable, the Azerbaijani government and some Azerbaijani companies have announced plans to rebuild infrastructure and invest in the newly controlled territories. The Azerbaijani military is clearing mines prior to resettlement, which may take 10–13 years. 280,000 people—virtually all ethnic Armenians who fled Azerbaijan during the 1988–1993 war over the disputed region of Artsakh—were living in refugee-like circumstances in Armenia. Some left the country, principally to Russia. Their children born in Armenia acquire citizenship automatically. Their numbers are thus subject to constant decline due to departure, and de-registration required for naturalisation. Of these, about 250,000 fled Azerbaijan (areas outside Nagorno-Karabakh); approximately 30,000 came from Nagorno-Karabakh. All were registered with the government as refugees at year's end. According to the Nagorno Karabakh Republic information, Some 350,000 Armenians were expelled from Azerbaijan and some 36,000 of them came to Nagorno Karabakh. Additionally some 71,000 Karabakh Armenians were internally displaced; see:


Land mines

Mines were laid in the region from 1991 to 1994 by both conflicting parties in the
first Nagorno-Karabakh War The First Nagorno-Karabakh War, referred to in Armenia as the Artsakh Liberation War ( hy, Արցախյան ազատամարտ, Artsakhyan azatamart) was an ethnic and territorial conflict that took place from February 1988 to May 1994, in ...
. The
United Nations Development Program The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)french: Programme des Nations unies pour le développement, PNUD is a United Nations agency tasked with helping countries Poverty reduction, eliminate poverty and achieve Sustainable development, ...
(UNDP) claims that 123 people have been killed and over 300 injured by landmines near the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh since a 1994 truce ended a six-year conflict between ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. The
HALO Trust The HALO Trust (Hazardous Area Life-support Organization) is a non-political and non-religious registered British charity and American non-profit organization which removes debris left behind by war, in particular land mines. With over 10,000 staf ...
, a UK-based demining NGO, is the only international organisation conducting
demining Demining or mine clearance is the process of removing land mines from an area. In military operations, the object is to rapidly clear a path through a minefield, and this is often done with devices such as mine plows and blast waves. By contra ...
in Nagorno Karabakh. They have destroyed 180,858 small arms ammunition, 48,572 units of "other explosive items", 12,423 cluster bombs, 8,733 anti-personnel landmines, and 2,584 anti-tank landmines between 2000 and 2016. By 2018, they had cleared 88% of the territory's minefields, with a target to clear the rest by 2020. The main cities of
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
and
Shusha Shusha ( az, Şuşa, ) or Shushi ( hy, Շուշի) is a city in Azerbaijan, in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Situated at an altitude of 1,400–1,800 metres (4,600–5,900 ft) in the Karabakh mountains, the city was a mountain reso ...
, as well as the main north–south highway, have been cleared and are safe for travel. The demining effort has been largely funded by the
United States Agency for International Development The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the federal government of the United States, U.S. federal government that is primarily responsible f ...
(USAID).


Geography

The Artsakh Republic is mountainous, a feature which has given it its former name (from the Russian for "Mountainous/Highland Karabakh"). It is in area. The largest water body is the Sarsang Reservoir, and the major rivers are the Tartar and
Khachen The Principality of Khachen ( hy, Խաչենի իշխանություն, Khacheni ishkhanutyun) was a medieval In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th cent ...
rivers. The country is on a plateau which slopes downwards towards the east and southeast, with the average altitude being
above sea level Height above mean sea level is a measure of the Vertical position, vertical distance (height, elevation or altitude) of a location in reference to a historic mean sea level taken as a vertical datum. In geodesy, it is formalized as ''orthometric h ...
. Most rivers in the country flow towards the Artsakh Valley. The climate is mild and temperate. The average temperature is , which fluctuates annually between in July and in January. The average precipitation can reach in some regions, and it is foggy for over 100 days a year. Over 2,000 kinds of plants exist in Artsakh, and more than 36% of the country is forested. The plant life on the
steppes In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. Steppe biomes may include: * the montane grasslands and shrublands biome * the temperate grasslands, ...
consists mostly of semi-desert vegetation, while
subalpine zone Montane ecosystems are found on the slopes of mountains. The alpine climate in these regions strongly affects the ecosystem because temperatures lapse rate, fall as elevation increases, causing the ecosystem to stratify. This stratification is ...
and
alpine tundra Alpine tundra is a type of natural region or biome that does not contain trees because it is at high elevation, with an associated alpine climate, harsh climate. As the latitude of a location approaches the poles, the threshold elevation for alp ...
ecosystems can be found above the forest in the highlands and mountains.


Administrative divisions

Artsakh is divided into seven provinces and one special administrative city. According to the authorities of Artsakh, it consists of the territories in which the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was proclaimed: the former
Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), DQMV, hy, Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի Ինքնավար Մարզ, ԼՂԻՄ was an Autonomous oblasts of the Soviet Union, autonomous oblast within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic th ...
(NKAO), the
Shahumyan Region Shahumyan Province ( hy, Շահումյան, Shahumyan, also spelled ''Shaumyan'' and ''Shahumian'') is a claimed province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives f ...
and the Getashen subdistrict; and those territories that formed part of the Republic of Artsakh before the
Second Nagorno-Karabakh War The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War was an armed conflict in 2020 that took place in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, the surrounding territories. It was a major escalation of ...
. As of 2022, the territory of Artsakh includes most of four districts of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, with the fifth district,
Hadrut Province Hadrut Province ( hy, Հադրութի շրջան) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', which ...
, completely under Azerbaijani control. Also claimed by Artsakh is the
Shahumyan Region Shahumyan Province ( hy, Շահումյան, Shahumyan, also spelled ''Shaumyan'' and ''Shahumian'') is a claimed province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives f ...
of the Azerbaijan SSR, which has been under Azerbaijani control since the
First Nagorno-Karabakh War The First Nagorno-Karabakh War, referred to in Armenia as the Artsakh Liberation War ( hy, Արցախյան ազատամարտ, Artsakhyan azatamart) was an ethnic and territorial conflict that took place from February 1988 to May 1994, in ...
. While the Shahumyan Region was not part of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, representatives from Shahumyan declared independence along with the Oblast, and the proclamation of Artsakh includes the Shahumyan region within its borders. After the end of the
Second Nagorno-Karabakh War The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War was an armed conflict in 2020 that took place in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, the surrounding territories. It was a major escalation of ...
, an agreement was signed according to which most of the controlled territories of the Republic of Artsakh were transferred to Azerbaijani control, but the Republic of Artsakh continues to claim these territories. Following the Republic of Artsakh's declaration of independence, the Azerbaijani government abolished the NKAO and created Azerbaijani districts in its place. As a result, some of Artsakh's divisions corresponded with the Azerbaijani districts, while others had different borders.


Demographics

In 2002, the country's population was 145,000, made up of 95% Armenians and 5% others. This composition represents a sharp change from the 1979 and 1989 census, when the Azerbaijani population was 23 and 21.5 per cent, respectively. The annual birth rate was recorded at 2,200–2,300 per year, an increase from nearly 1,500 in 1999. OSCE report, released in March 2011, estimates the population of the "seven occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh" to be 14,000, and states "there has been no significant growth in the population since 2005." An
International Crisis Group The International Crisis Group (ICG; also known as the Crisis Group) is a transnational non-profit, Non-governmental organization, non-governmental organisation founded in 1995. It is a think tank, used by policymakers and academics, performing r ...
report published in December 2019 recorded the population of these territories to be 17,000, or 11.48% of the total population: 15,000 west and southwest of the former oblast, and 2000 in the
Agdam District Aghdam District ( az, Ağdam rayonu) is one of the 66 administrative divisions of Azerbaijan. It is located in the west of the country and belongs to the Karabakh Economic Region. The district borders the districts of Khojaly District, Khojaly, ...
. Until 2000, the country's net migration was at a negative. For the first half of 2007, 1,010 births and 659 deaths were reported, with a net emigration of 27. According to age group: 15,700 (0–6), 25,200 (7–17) 75,800 (18–59) and 21,000 (60+) Population by province (2006): *
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
54,500 (2013) * Martuni 23,200 * Martakert 19,000 * Askeran 17,400 (2007) * Hadrut 12,300 (2009) * Kashatagh 9,800 *
Shushi / hy, Շուշի , settlement_type = City A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Sc ...
5,000 (2009) * Shahumyan 2,800 Population of the Republic of Artsakh (2000–2008)


Ethnic composition

Ethnic Groups of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (1926–1989) and the Republic of Artsakh (2015) according to census data


Languages

Armenian functions as the only state language and an official language in the Republic of Artsakh, and is the native language of over 99% of the population. Under Soviet rule, the ethnic Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabkah became more proficient in Russian than both Azerbaijanis in the region, and Armenians in the Armenian SSR.Few Armenians learnt Azerbaijani, and the language was actively removed following the Nagorno-Karabakh War. While Russian remained in some use after this time, and was valued as a second language, it was not widely spoken at a native level. Russian is widely spoken in Arstakh, with efforts having been made since late 2020 in the parliament in Stepanakert to establish it as an additional official language; the official justifications for this being that Russian was already the second language of many residents, and that it would create "conditions for deepening cooperation in all spheres, s well as contributingto the development of relations within the legal framework." The Parliament of Artsakh approved a bill grating Russian official status on March 25, 2021, with 27 votes in favour, 0 votes against and 2 abstentions.


Cities and towns

The capital and by far largest city in Artsakh is Stepanakert (55,200 inhabitants in 2015), followed by Martuni (5,700), Martakert (4,600), Chartar (4,000), Askeran (2,300), Haterk (c. 1,600), Berdashen (c. 1,600), Vank (c. 1,600),
Noragyugh Noragyugh ( hy, Նորագյուղ) is a historic neighborhood in Kentron District Kentron ( hy, Կենտրոն վարչական շրջան, translit=Kentron varčakan šrĵan), is one of the 12 districts of Yerevan Yerevan ( , , hy, Ե ...
(c. 1,500), Ivanyan (c. 1,400), Taghavard (c. 1,300), Gishi (c. 1,100), Karmir Shuka (c. 1,100),
Sos is a Morse code Morse code is a method used in telecommunication to Character encoding, encode Written language, text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations, called ''dots'' and ''dashes'', or ''dits'' a ...
(c. 1,100), Aygestan (c. 1,100) and Khnapat (c. 1,000). This list only includes towns that remain in Artsakh after the 2020 war.


Resettlement attempts after 1994

From 1989 to 1994, there was significant depopulation in the territory that ended up held by Artsakh, leaving only around 40% of the pre-war population. Much of this was due to the displacement and death of Azerbaijani residents in both the former NKOA and the surrounding territories, leaving some former urban areas virtually empty. The Russian minority present also declined, meaning the resulting population was almost 100% Armenian. Beginning in 1995, the population began to increase due to births and immigration. While the territory captured outside the former NKAO was initially treated as a potential bargaining chip, it slowly began to be seen as part of the country by both officials and the general population. The
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
-based administration launched various programs aimed at bringing in permanent Armenian settlers to the depopulated lands, including into regions previously populated by Azeris, with those that bordered Armenia – Lachin and Kalbajar – being the priority. Lachin was key to a land connection between Armenia and the former NKAO, and Kalbajar had water resources utilised by both Artsakh and Armenia. Azerbaijan regards this as a violation of Article 49 of the
Fourth Geneva Convention The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, more commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in Aug ...
, to which Armenia became party in 1993, whereby " e Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies". The ruling party of Azerbaijan accuses the Armenian side of artificially changing the demographic situation and the ethnic composition of the occupied region so that it can lay future claims to them, comparing this to the 1950s campaign of resettling diaspora Armenians in previously Azeri-populated locales in Soviet Armenia where Azeris were forcibly deported from in 1948–1950. In 1979, the total Armenian population of the districts of Kalbajar, Lachin, Qubadli, Zangilan, Jabrayil, Fuzuli and Agdam was around 1,400 people. An OSCE fact-finding mission established at Azerbaijan's request visited these regions in February 2005 with the intention to assess the scale of the settlement attempts. The mission's findings showed that these districts had as of 2005 an overall population of 14,000 people, mostly living in precarious social conditions. It consisted primarily of ethnic Armenians displaced from the non-conflict zones of Azerbaijan during the war. It was noted, however, that most of them had settled in the conflict zone after having lived in Armenia for several years and some held Armenian passports and even voted in Armenian elections. A smaller segment of the settlers was originally from the towns of
Gyumri Gyumri ( hy, Գյումրի, ) is an urban municipal community and the second-largest city in Armenia, serving as the administrative center of Shirak Province in the northwestern part of the country. By the end of the 19th century, when the city w ...
and
Spitak Spitak ( hy, Սպիտակ), is a town and urban municipal community in the northern Lori Province Lori ( hy, wikt:Լոռի, Լոռի, ), is a provinces of Armenia, province (''Administrative divisions of Armenia, marz'') of Armenia. It is loc ...
in Armenia who had lived in temporary shelters following the devastating 1988 earthquake before moving to Karabakh, as well as a small number of natives of Yerevan who moved there for financial reasons. A field assessment mission revisited the region in October 2010, confirming that there had not been much growth in population or change in the living conditions of the settlers. The Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group who visited Nagorno-Karabakh, Kalbajar and Lachin in 2014 reported seeing signs of improvements in the infrastructure but could not observe any indications that the size of the population had changed in recent years. By June 2015, an estimated 17,000 of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
's once 80,000-strong Armenian population had fled the
civil war A civil war or intrastate war is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change go ...
and sought refuge in Armenia. David Babayan, spokesperson of the Artsakh leader Bako Sahakyan, confirmed that some of those refugees had been resettled in Artsakh. ''
The Economist ''The Economist'' is a British weekly newspaper printed in Paper size#Demitab, demitab format and Electronic publishing, published digitally. It focuses on current affairs, international business, politics, technology, and culture. Based in Lo ...
'' put the number of the resettled families at 30 as of June 2017. In December 2014, Armenian media cited local municipal authorities in stating that dozens of Syrian Armenian families had been resettled in the disputed zone, in particular in the city of Lachin and the village of Xanlıq in
Qubadli Qubadli ( az, Qubadlı, ) is a city in Azerbaijan and the administrative centre of the Qubadli District. It is situated along the Vorotan (river), Vorotan (Bargushad) river. History Qubadli was part of the Zangezur uezd of the Elizavetpol Gov ...
. Azerbaijan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov expressed his concern over Armenia's attempts to change the demographic situation in the region and informed of his intention to raise this issue with the Minsk Group. In February 2019, Armenia's National Security Service director Artur Vanetsyan visited Nagorno-Karabakh amid public concern about
Nikol Pashinyan Nikol Vovayi Pashinyan ( hy, Նիկոլ Վովայի Փաշինյան, ; born 1 June 1975) is an Armenian politician serving as the prime minister of Armenia since 8 May 2018. A journalist by profession, Pashinyan founded his own newspaper in ...
's government alleged readiness to cede some of the Armenian-controlled territories as part of a peace settlement. Vanetsyan pointed out that settling Armenians and investing into infrastructural projects along the Iranian border, in the previously Azeri-populated regions outside of the former autonomous province, was "a clear message" to the international community that there would be no territorial concessions. He referred to the ongoing settlement efforts as a method of "guaranteeing security". Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry reacted by qualifying Vanetsyan's statement as an "attempt to undermine the peace talks and defy the work of the mediators" and vowed to address the issue to the UN and the OSCE. The ceasefire ending the 2020 war stipulated that these territories were to be turned over to Azerbaijani control. Armenian settlers in these areas evacuated prior to the arrival of Azerbaijani forces.


Religion

Most of the Armenian population in Artsakh is Christian and are adherents of the
Armenian Apostolic Church , native_name_lang = hy , icon = Armenian Apostolic Church logo.svg , icon_width = 100px , icon_alt = , image = Էջմիածնի_Մայր_Տաճար.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , a ...
, which is an
Oriental Orthodox The Oriental Orthodox Churches are Eastern Christianity, Eastern Christian churches adhering to Miaphysitism, Miaphysite Christology, with approximately 60 million members worldwide. The Oriental Orthodox Churches are part of the Nicene C ...
Church. Some
Eastern Orthodox Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, is one of the three main branches of Chalcedonian Christianity, alongside Catholicism and Protestantism. Like the Pentarchy of the first millennium, the mainstream (or " canonica ...
and
Evangelical Evangelicalism (), also called evangelical Christianity or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide Interdenominationalism, interdenominational movement within Protestantism, Protestant Christianity that affirms the centrality of being "bor ...
denominations also exist.


Armenian monasteries and churches


=Controlled by Artsakh after 2020

= * Amaras Monastery (4th century), located near the villages of
Sos is a Morse code Morse code is a method used in telecommunication to Character encoding, encode Written language, text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations, called ''dots'' and ''dashes'', or ''dits'' a ...
and Machkalashen in the
Martuni Province Martuni Province ( hy, Մարտունու շրջան) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', whi ...
. According to medieval chroniclers Faustus Byuzand and
Movses Kaghankatvatsi Movses Kaghankatvatsi ( hy, Մովսէս Կաղանկատուացի ''Movses Kaġankatvac’i''), or Movses Daskhurantsi ( ''Movses Dasxuranc’i'') is the reputed author (or authors) of a tenth-century Classical Armenian historiographical work on C ...
, St. Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint and evangeliser of Armenia, founded the Amaras Monastery at the start of the fourth century. At the beginning of the fifth century
Mesrop Mashtots Mesrob or Mesrop ( hy, Մեսրոպ) is an Armenian people, Armenian given name. Mesrob / Mesrop may refer to: *Mesrop Mashtots, also Saint Mesrop, Armenian monk, theologian and linguist. Inventor of the Armenian alphabet **Mesrop Mashtots Institut ...
, the inventor of the
Armenian alphabet The Armenian alphabet ( hy, Հայոց գրեր, ' or , ') is an alphabetic writing system used to write Armenian language, Armenian. It was developed around 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and wikt:ecclesiastical, ecclesiast ...
, established in Amaras the first-ever school that used his script. * Yeghishe Arakyal Monastery (5th–13th centuries) commemorating St. Yeghishe, the famous evangeliser of Armenia's eastern lands. The church serves as a burial ground for the fifth century's King Vachagan II the Pious, the most well-known representative of the Arranshahik line of east Armenian monarchs. The monastery is located in the Martakert Province. * Bri Yeghtsi Monastery (13th century) that centres on embedded khachkars, unique-to-Armenia stone memorials with engraved crosses. The monastery is located near the village of Hatsi in the
Martuni Province Martuni Province ( hy, Մարտունու շրջան) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', whi ...
. * Gandzasar monastery (13th century), ("Գանձասար" in Armenian) is a historical monastery in Artsakh. Artsakhi government's aim is to include the Gandzasar Monastery into the directory of the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. * Yerits Mankants Monastery (meaning "three infants" in Armenian; 17th century) is known for hosting the seat of Artsakh's rival clergy to that of the Holy See of Gandzasar. The monastery is located in the Martakert Province. * Saint John the Baptist Church, located in the town of Martakert, built in 1883. * Church of St. Nerses the Great, located in the town of Martuni, consecrated in 2004. It is dedicated to the famous Armenian Catholicos, Saint Narses the Great. * Holy Mother of God Cathedral in the city of
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
, consecrated in 2019.


=Controlled by Azerbaijan after 2020

= As a result of the
2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War was an armed conflict in 2020 that took place in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, the surrounding territories. It was a major escalation of ...
, Azerbaijan took control over territories containing several important Armenian monasteries and churches, such as the monasteries of Dadivank, Tsitsernavank, Gtichavank, and the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, as well as the churches of Kanach Zham and St. Hovhannes Church (Hadrut region). * Katarovank Monastery was founded in the fourth century, and is located close to the village of Hin Tagher in the
Hadrut Province Hadrut Province ( hy, Հադրութի շրջան) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', which ...
. The present-day chapel is a 17th-century structure. There are Armenian
khachkars A ''khachkar'', also known as a ''khatchkar'' or Armenian cross-stone ( hy, խաչքար, , խաչ xačʿ "cross" + քար kʿar "stone") is a carved, memorial stele A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), ...
near the chapel. The monastery offers a unique panoramic view to the River Araxes. * Tsitsernavank Monastery (4th century) is the best-preserved example of an Armenian basilica with three naves. The monastery is located in the village of Tsitsernavank in the Kashatagh Province. *
Dadivank Monastery Dadivank ( hy, Դադիվանք) or Khutavank ( hy, Խութավանք, translation=monastery on the hillЖеан-Паул Лабурдетьте, Доминикуе Аузиас, Армения, Petit Futé, 2007 – p. 203) is an Armenian Apo ...
( hy, Դադիվանք), also known as Khutavank ( hy, Խութավանք – Monastery on the Hill), that was built between the 9th and 13th century. It is one of the most architecturally and culturally significant monasteries in Artsakh. The western façade of Dadivank's Memorial Cathedral bears one of the most extensive Armenian lapidary (stone-inscribed) texts, and has one of the largest collection of medieval Armenian
frescoes Fresco (plural ''frescos'' or ''frescoes'') is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid ("wet") lime plaster. Water Water (chemical formula ) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Col ...
. Dadivank is named after St. Dadi, a disciple of Apostle Thaddeus who preached the Holy Gospel in Artsakh in the first century. St. Dadi's tomb was later discovered by archaeologists in 2007. The monastery is in the Shahumyan Province and has been placed under the protection of the Russian peacekeeping forces. * Gtichavank Monastery (13th century) has design features shared with the architectural style of medieval Armenia's capital city of Ani. The monastery is located in the
Hadrut Province Hadrut Province ( hy, Հադրութի շրջան) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', which ...
. *
Ghazanchetsots Cathedral Holy Savior Cathedral ( hy, Սուրբ Ամենափրկիչ մայր տաճար, ''Surb Amenap′rkich mayr tachar''), commonly referred to as Ghazanchetsots ( hy, Ղազանչեցոց),), ''Kazanchetsots'' (russian: Казанчецоц). In A ...
, built 1868–1888 (Սուրբ Ամենափրկիչ Ղազանչեցոց Եկեղեցի – "Surb Amenap'rkich Ghazanchets'ots' Yekeghets'i" in Armenian), also known as the ''Cathedral of Christ the Savior'' and the ''Shushi Cathedral'', is an Armenian church located in
Shusha Shusha ( az, Şuşa, ) or Shushi ( hy, Շուշի) is a city in Azerbaijan, in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Situated at an altitude of 1,400–1,800 metres (4,600–5,900 ft) in the Karabakh mountains, the city was a mountain reso ...
. It is the main cathedral and headquarters of the
Armenian Apostolic Church , native_name_lang = hy , icon = Armenian Apostolic Church logo.svg , icon_width = 100px , icon_alt = , image = Էջմիածնի_Մայր_Տաճար.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , a ...
's "Diocese of Artsakh". * Just uphill from the cathedral in Shusha is the church of Kanach Zham ('Green Church' in Armenian), built in 1847.


Education

Education in Artsakh is compulsory, and is free up to the age of 18. The education system is inherited from the old system of the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
. Artsakh's school system was severely damaged because of the 1991–1994 conflict. But the government of the Republic of Artsakh with considerable aid from the Republic of
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
and with donations from the
Armenian diaspora The Armenian diaspora refers to the communities of Armenians outside Armenia and other locations where Armenians are considered an indigenous population. Since antiquity, Armenians have established communities in many regions throughout the world. ...
, rebuilt many of the schools. Prior to the 2020 war, Artsakh had around 250 schools of various sizes, with more than 200 lying in the regions. The student population was estimated at more than 20,000, with almost half in the capital city of
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
. Artsakh State University was founded by Artsakh and Armenian governments' joint efforts, with main campus in
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
. The university opening ceremony took place on 10 May 1992. Yerevan University of Management also opened a branch in
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
.


Economy

The socio-economic situation of the Republic of Artsakh was greatly affected by the 1991–1994 conflict. Yet, foreign investments began to come. The origin of most venture capital comes from Armenians in Armenia, Russia, United States, France, Australia, Iran, and the Middle East. Notably the telecommunications sector was developed with Karabakh Telecom investing millions of dollars in mobile telephony, spearheaded by a Lebanese company. Copper and gold mining has been advancing since 2002 with development and launch of operations at Drmbon deposit. Approximately 27–28 thousand tons (wet weight) of concentrates are produced with average copper content of 19–21% and gold content of 32–34 g/t. Azerbaijan considers any mining operations in Nagorno-Karabakh illegal and has vowed to engage an international audit company to determine the damages suffered by Azerbaijan's state-run ore management company as a result. In 2018, the government of Azerbaijan announced that it was planning to appeal to an international court and the law enforcement agencies of the countries where the mining companies involved are registered. The banking system is administered by Artsakhbank (a Yerevan-based Armenian bank fulfilling the functions of the state bank of Nagorno-Karabakh) and a number of other Armenian banks. The republic uses the
Armenian dram The dram ( hy, դրամ; Armenian dram sign, sign: ֏; abbreviation: դր.; ISO 4217, ISO code: AMD) is the currency of Armenia, and is also used in the neighboring unrecognized Republic of Artsakh. It was historically subdivided into 100 luma ( ...
. Wine growing and processing of agricultural products, particularly wine (i.e., storage of wine, wine stuffs, cognac alcohol) is one of the prioritised directions of the economic development.


Tourism

Prior to the 2020 war, the republic developed a tourist industry geared to Armenia and the
Armenian diaspora The Armenian diaspora refers to the communities of Armenians outside Armenia and other locations where Armenians are considered an indigenous population. Since antiquity, Armenians have established communities in many regions throughout the world. ...
. The republic showed a major increase in tourists over the last several years because of Artsakh's many cultural sights. Before the 2020 war there were nine hotels in
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
. The Artsakh development agency says 4,000 tourists visited Artsakh in 2005. The figures rose to 8,000 in 2010 (excluding visitors from Armenia). The agency cooperated with the Armenia Tourism Development Agency (ATDA) as Armenia is the only way tourists (mainly Armenians) can access Artsakh. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh reported continuous expansion of visitors' geography. Tourist infrastructure was developed around sites such as monasteries that showcase the Armenian history in the region, with Islamic sites rarely restored, while some ghost cities and areas near the front line were off limit to tourists. The Tourism Development Agency of Artsakh was established in Yerevan as a non-governmental organisation in the Republic of Armenia to promote tourism further in Artsakh. It makes preparations for tour operators, travel agencies and journalists covering the region, and arranges for hotel services, shopping, catering, recreation centers. Tourist attractions included: * Gandzasar monastery, main tourist attraction. *
Ghazanchetsots Cathedral Holy Savior Cathedral ( hy, Սուրբ Ամենափրկիչ մայր տաճար, ''Surb Amenap′rkich mayr tachar''), commonly referred to as Ghazanchetsots ( hy, Ղազանչեցոց),), ''Kazanchetsots'' (russian: Казанчецоц). In A ...
of the Holy Savior (Under Azerbaijani control since 2020 war) * Church of the Holy Mother of God " Kanach Zham" (Under Azerbaijani control since 2020 war) * Amaras Monastery * Tsitsernavank Monastery (Under Azerbaijani control since 2020 war) * St. Yeghishe Arakyal Monastery *
Dadivank Monastery Dadivank ( hy, Դադիվանք) or Khutavank ( hy, Խութավանք, translation=monastery on the hillЖеан-Паул Лабурдетьте, Доминикуе Аузиас, Армения, Petit Futé, 2007 – p. 203) is an Armenian Apo ...
* Gtichavank monastery (Under Azerbaijani control since 2020 war) * Bri Yeghtsi monastery * Yerits Mankants * Katarovank Monastery (Under Azerbaijani control since 2020 war) Other tourist attractions included: * Fort Mayraberd (10th–18th centuries) served as the primary bulwark against Turko-nomadic incursions from the eastern steppe. The fort is found to the east of the region's capital city of
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
. * Govharagha Mosque (18th century), a mosque located in the city of Shusha, now under Azerbaijani control.
Janapar Janapar Trail () is a marked trail through mountains, valleys, and villages of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh which passes by monasteries and fortresses along its route. The trail consists of several day hikes, taking hikers to a differe ...
Trail is a marked trail, through mountains, valleys, and villages of Artsakh, with monasteries and fortresses along the way. It's not hikable since the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. The trail was broken into day hikes, which brought tourists to a different village each night. The paths have existed for centuries but now are marked specifically for hikers. The Himnakan Janapar (backbone trail), marked in 2007, leads from the northwest region of Shahumian to the southern town of Hadrut, now under Azerbaijani control. Side trails and mini trails take one to additional parts of Artsakh. The important sites passed along this hike include
Dadivank Monastery Dadivank ( hy, Դադիվանք) or Khutavank ( hy, Խութավանք, translation=monastery on the hillЖеан-Паул Лабурдетьте, Доминикуе Аузиас, Армения, Petit Futé, 2007 – p. 203) is an Armenian Apo ...
, Gandzasar monastery,
Shusha Shusha ( az, Şuşa, ) or Shushi ( hy, Շուշի) is a city in Azerbaijan, in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Situated at an altitude of 1,400–1,800 metres (4,600–5,900 ft) in the Karabakh mountains, the city was a mountain reso ...
, the Karkar Canyon with its high cliffs, Zontik Waterfall, and the ruins of Hunot and Gtichavank monastery. One of the noteworthy side trails is the Gtichavank Loop Trail. This loop starts from
Tugh A ''tug'' ( , tr, tuğ, ota, طوغ or , otk, 𐱃𐰆𐰍, tuğ) or sulde ( mn, сүлд, script=Cyrl), () is a pole with circularly arranged horse or yak tail hairs of varying colors arranged at the top. It was historically flown by T ...
Village, now under Azerbaijani control. The cost of staying in Artsakh is relatively cheap in comparison with the rest of the region and varies approximately between 25 – US$70 for a single person as of May 2017. However, those who travelled to Artsakh without the Azerbaijani government's prior consent and permission will be denied entry to Azerbaijan since the country considers Artsakh their territory unlawfully occupied by the
Armenian army The Armed Forces of Armenia ( hy, Հայաստանի զինված ուժեր, Hayastani zinvats uzher), sometimes referred to as the Armenian Army ( hy, Հայկական Բանակ, Haykakan Banak), is the national military of Armenia Armen ...
. The Azerbaijani government also keeps and publishes online a list of foreign nationals who visited these occupied areas without prior approval. In late 2017, the list contained 699 names with additional details (date, country, profession, purpose of visit). The earliest entry recorded a visit to Artsakh that occurred on an unspecified date sometime between 1993 and 1996. The list includes many journalists and members of parliaments of foreign countries.


Artsakh Wine Fest

Before the 2020 war, the Artsakh Wine Fest took place annually in Togh since 2014. The festival was held on the third Saturday of each September. The festival was initiated by the Department of Tourism and Protection of Historical Places of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Youth Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh and was aimed to develop tourism in Artsakh. It was meant to restore Artsakh
winemaking Winemaking or vinification is the production of wine, starting with the selection of the fruit, its Ethanol fermentation, fermentation into alcohol, and the bottling of the finished liquid. The history of wine-making stretches over millennia. The ...
traditions. The festival provided a platform to the winemakers of Artsakh and Armenia giving them an opportunity to sell their products, exchange knowledge, promote their wine etc. The annual festival's program included grape stomping, tasting of traditional Artsakh cuisine, an exhibition of artworks, an exhibition of ancient artefacts that belonged to the Melik Yegan's Palace, as well as an exhibition and sale of local wine, where one could find products from 5 different regions of Artsakh and
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
. Traditionally, the festival was accompanied by Armenian national singing and dancing. The festival evolved into a national holiday.


Transportation

The transportation system had been damaged by the 1991–1994 conflict. The North–South Artsakh motorway alone largely facilitated the development of the transportation system. Before the 2020 war, the Hadrut-Stepanakert-Askeran-Martakert motorway was the lifeline of Artsakh, and $25 million donated during the Hayastan All-Armenian Foundation telethons was allotted for the construction of the road. A new route from the Armenian capital
Yerevan Yerevan ( , , hy, Երևան , sometimes spelled Erevan) is the capital and largest city of Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The ...
to Stepanakert was planned to bypass the 8–9 hours drive via the Lachin corridor. It was opened in September 2017. A third road was planned in 2019. Following the 2020 war, a new road will be built along the Lachin corridor to bypass Shusha. Authorities in the USSR opened a railway line in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast in 1944. It line connected the capital, Stepanakert, and Yevlax in Azerbaijan. It was built to Russian standard gauge of 1520mm. Due to the first Nagorno-Karabakh War, the line the railway was badly damaged and the line was closed.
Stepanakert Airport Stepanakert Airport ( hy, Ստեփանակերտի Օդանավակայան), referred to as the Khojaly Airport ( az, Xocalı Hava Limanı) in Azerbaijan, is an airport in the town of Khojaly (town), Ivanyan (Khojaly), 10 kilometers north-east of ...
, the sole civilian airport of the Republic of Artsakh, located about east of the capital, has been closed since the onset of the war in 1990. It was expected that the airport would have regular flight services only to
Yerevan Yerevan ( , , hy, Երևան , sometimes spelled Erevan) is the capital and largest city of Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The ...
,
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
, with state-owned carrier Artsakh Air. As of December 2021, flights had not started.


Culture

" We Are Our Mountains" ( hy, Մենք ենք մեր սարերը) by Sargis Baghdasaryan is a monument located in
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
. The sculpture is widely regarded as a symbol of the ''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, whether or not they are officially recognized by laws or other formal norms. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with '' de jure'' ("by l ...
'' independent Republic of Artsakh. It is a large monument from
tuff Tuff is a type of Rock (geology), rock made of volcanic ash ejected from a Volcano, vent during a volcanic eruption. Following ejection and deposition, the ash is lithified into a solid rock. Rock that contains greater than 75% ash is conside ...
of an old Armenian man and woman hewn from rock, representing the
mountain people Hill people, also referred to as mountain people, is a general term for people who live in the hills and mountains. This includes all rugged land above and all land (including plateaus) above elevation. The climate is generally harsh, with s ...
of Artsakh. It is also known as ''Tatik yev Papik'' (Տատիկ և Պապիկ) in Armenian. The sculpture is featured prominently on Artsakh's coat of arms. Artsakh State Museum is the historical museum of the Republic of Artsakh. Located at 4 Sasunstsi David Street, in
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
, the museum offers an assortment of ancient artefacts and Christian manuscripts. There are also more recent items, ranging in date from the 19th century to World War II and from events of the Karabakh Independence War.


Publications

'' Azat Artsakh'' is the official newspaper of the Republic of Artsakh.


Sports

Sports in the Republic of Artsakh are organised by the Artsakh Ministry of Culture and Youth. Due to the non-recognition of Artsakh, sports teams from the country cannot compete in most international tournaments.
Football Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, Kick (football), kicking a Football (ball), ball to score a Goal (sport), goal. Unqualified, Football (word), the word ''football'' normally means the form of football tha ...
is the most popular sport in Artsakh.
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
has a well-built football stadium. Since the mid-1990s, football teams from Artsakh started taking part in some domestic competitions in Armenia. Lernayin Artsakh FC represents the city of
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
. In Artsakh, domestic football clubs play in the Artsakh Football League. The Artsakh football league was launched in 2009. The Artsakh national football team was formed in 2012 and played their first competitive match against the Abkhazia national football team in Sokhumi, a match that ended with a result of 1–1 draw. The return match between the unrecognised teams took place at the
Stepanakert / az, Xankəndi, italic=no , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = File:StepanakertCollage.jpg , imagesize = 300px , image_caption = From top left: Holy Mother o ...
Stadium, on 21 October 2012, when the team from Artsakh defeated the Abkhazian team 3–0. There is also interest in other sports, including basketball and volleyball. Sailing is practised in the town of Martakert. Artsakh sports teams and athletes also participate in the Pan-Armenian Games organised in Armenia.


Holidays


See also

*
Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh The Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh were areas of Azerbaijan, situated outside the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), which were occupied by the ethnic Armenian Artsakh Defense Army, military forces of ...
*
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations The Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations (russian: Сообщество за демократию и права народов), also commonly and colloquially known as the Commonwealth of Unrecognized States, rarely as CIS-2 (), is a ...
* Foreign relations of Artsakh *
Janapar Janapar Trail () is a marked trail through mountains, valleys, and villages of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh which passes by monasteries and fortresses along its route. The trail consists of several day hikes, taking hikers to a differe ...
– Multi-section hiking trail going through much of Karabakh * Outline of the Republic of Artsakh


Notes


References


Further reading

*


External links

{{Stateless nationalism in Europe First Nagorno-Karabakh War Nagorno-Karabakh conflict Subdivisions of Azerbaijan Separatism in Azerbaijan South Caucasus Western Asian countries Disputed territories in Asia 1992 in Asia Post-Soviet states Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast States and territories established in 1992 1992 establishments in Azerbaijan 1992 establishments in Asia Armenian-speaking countries and territories Russian-speaking countries and territories Artsakh States with limited recognition Frozen conflict zones History of the Republic of Artsakh